Augustinian priests who concelebrated Easter Mass with a Church of
Ireland clergyman could be dismissed from the priesthood by the
Vatican, reported the Sunday Business Post.
Augustinian Fathers Iggy O’Donovan, Noel Hession and Richard Goode invited Rev Michael Graham, the rector of St Peter’s in Drogheda, to join them for the Mass.
Archbishop Sean Brady is carrying out investigations. Because this involves a religious order, the final outcome would be a matter for the Augustinians.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has exclusive powers to deal with the concelebration of the mass with non-Catholic clergy.
After such an event, the bishop has to carry out a preliminary investigation and then report to the CDF. If the bishop decides the accused clergymen should be dismissed from the priesthood, he may ask the CDF to “impose dismissal by decree”.
One Vatican source told the Business Post that, “Canon 1365 of the Code of Canon Law prescribes a ‘just penalty’ for anyone guilty of prohibited participation in such religious rites.” Several factors to be taken into consideration include the gravity of the offence, its frequency, the possible scandal caused and the impact on ecumenical dialogue.
“This canon highlights the importance and the delicacy of the Church’s apostolate towards ecumenism and testifies that, if the Church is to remain faithful to itself and to the ultimate success of the ecumenical movement, it must remain faithful to its own teaching.”